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Another Act of Resistance to Plum Creek by Maine Earth First!


In a daring act of civil disobedience, four women locked their necks together at the Land Use Regulatory Commission (LURC) office in Augusta, Maine. In mid-September, LURC signaled their approval for the controversial Concept Plan put forth by Plum Creek to rezone a large tract of the Moosehead Lake region (see EF!J September-October). This plan would turn the area, rich in biodiversity, into sites for gravel mining, water extraction, commercial logging and development for resorts for the rich. The women, members of Maine Earth First!, refused to leave the office until LURC staff could explain why they had recommended the approval of the plan.

LURC approved the plan revisions that their staff had recommended in a move that surprised many who have been watching the process closely. Critics noted that LURC received more than 1,700 comments opposing a resort development at Lily Bay as part of the Plum Creek Concept Plan. LURC received only six comments in favor of the plan.

Despite this overwhelming public statement against the Plum Creek development, the commission refused to amend their recommendations by removing the Lily Bay resort. “The public has spoken on this issue, and LURC refuses to listen. We want to know why they are selling our future,” said one of the four locked together.

Many of the groups that intervened in the formal Concept Plan review process are expected to file appeals to LURC’s decision in the Maine Superior Court.

Some of the grounds for these appeals are likely to revolve around the flawed process that has LURC staff writing changes to Plum Creek’s plan so that it can be rubber stamped by LURC.
The staff that is working on tailoring the Concept Plan for Plum Creek worked in the office occupied by the four women.

“We aren’t leaving until the LURC staff who made the recommendations can adequately justify their actions,” said another of the women who locked down. 

“Many Mainers believe their process has been undemocratic and corrupt…. LURC’s decision flies in the face of thousands of Mainers who have expressed
serious concerns about the Concept Plan.”

After a full day of closing down the Department of Conservation building, the four women were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing. They have been arraigned and are currently awaiting their next court date.

Two days following the lockdown, the arrestees and others attended LURC’s meeting on October 1 in Bangor, Maine, where LURC was to present its final version of the plan to Plum Creek. Maine Earth First! congratulated LURC on yet another job well done with a cake the shape of the state of Maine and the question, “Would you like to have your cake and eat it, too?” LURC ungraciously refused to accept Maine Earth First!’s gift to them. To further express their ingratitude, they illegally arrested a concerned citizen who accompanied Maine Earth First! to express his anger at LURC’s initial approval of the Plum Creek plan. 

Members of Maine Earth First! are pledging continued resistance to the plan as it moves forward in the coming months. Maine Earth First! is completely dedicated to doing what LURC has refused to do: protecting a way of life, safeguarding biodiversity, promoting climate stability and preserving the culture that makes the Moosehead Lake region so unique and so wonderful. This is just the beginning!

Team Fiasco is two women from rural Maine who like chopping wood, booty dancing, farming, drinking whiskey and fighting to protect the North Woods!

Maine ActivistsTarget Portland Law Firm for Rolein Commodifying Maine’s Groundwater

 

Maine Youth Give Pierce-Atwood something to think about...

Maine Youth Give Pierce-Atwood something to think about…

Maine Activists Target Portland Law Firm for Role in Commodifying Maine’s Groundwater

 

People from across Maine brought trash bags full of empty plastic water bottles to Pierce Atwood Law Firm’s office in Portland, ME on the morning of Friday, November 14 to demonstrate the physical ramifications of the corporate bottling industry for Maine’s landfills. The law firm represents both Nestle’ Waters North America and the Nature Conservancy in their water acquisition projects throughout Maine. Nestle’, the Nature Conservancy, and Pierce Atwood share both financial resources and leadership in order to pursue an agenda of commodifying Maine’s groundwater. Young Maine residents and their allies gathered in Portland to protest against Pierce Atwood’s role as the legal liaison in the corporate theft of Maine’s water. In particular, those gathered were concerned about Nestle’s continued legal action against the people of Fryeburg as well as the Nature Conservancy’s refusal to remove commercial water extraction from the development easements attached to the Plum Creek development plan for the North Woods.

 

The town of Fryeburg has been battling a Nestle’ expansion project for over four years. As of October 2008, on four separate occasions Fryeburg’s town government has denied Nestle’ the permits needed for a truck loading station that is needed to put another well online for Nestle’s water extraction operations. Each time, Nestle’ has appealed the decision and brought suit against the people of Fryeburg, leaving the community struggling with crippling legal expenses. In September, the multinational corporation filed its fourth suit in the Maine Supreme Judicial Court against the small rural town of 3,000 residents. “How many times does Fryeburg have to say “No!” for Nestle’ to respect their town’s democratic decision?” questioned Andy Smith of Waterville, “this type of legal action is not how good neighbors treat each other.”

Farther north, another client of Pierce Atwood, the Nature Conservancy is expected to take control of over 266,000 acres through conservation easements related to the Plum Creek planned development of the Moosehead Region. Despite numerous concerns raised during public hearings by those opposed to corporate development of the North Woods, commercial water extraction is still a possibility in the Nature Conservancy’s easements. “It seems like the Nature Conservancy has really put the “con” into their conservation,” says Emily Posner of Defending Water for Life, “when the average person thinks of environmental conservation, they do not think of the North Woods being littered with diesel trucks shipping out the region’s water.”

Pierce Atwood is a major contributor, as is Nestle’ Water’s North America, to the Nature Conservancy of Maine. Executives from both organizations also sit on the non-profit’s corporate conservation board. Nestle’ Waters North America—a subsidiary of Nestle S.A.–is the largest food processing corporation in the world. Both Native Forest Network and Defending Water for Life remain concerned that without local consent and often times even public input, Nestle’ is bulldozing its way through Maine’s long-standing democratic processes in order to commandeer the great sand and gravel aquifers that run throughout Maine; the very water that should be a resource and common good for Maine’s future generations, not profits for giant corporations.

This debacle is representative of an emerging world-wide corporate water cartel that is steadily and deliberately eroding community governing practices in their efforts to commodify the land, water, wildlife-even the people-in communities and localities throughout the world. This type of corporate abuse mirrors that which has happened on oil-rich lands. Canada and the northeastern quarter of the U.S. hold a significant percentage of the entire world’s fresh water reserves, and this assault on Fryeburg, ME represents part of a developing, very dangerous trend launched by multinational corporate enterprises to appropriate control over ground and surface water supplies from local communities for markets elsewhere. Along with the actions of bottled-water outfits like Nestle’ in places like Maine, Wisconsin, Michigan, Texas, and Florida–even greater plans are afoot to pipe water from the Great Lakes and the Quebec-Labrador Peninsula (which is largely Indigenous Territory) to provide fresh water for golf courses, swimming pools, gated communities, lawns, and water parks in the Southwestern deserts. Such projects will be pushed on communities in relatively water-rich regions under the guise of providing water for thirsty people in desert communities-allegedly justifying the suspension of people’s right to local sovereignty and control over their own resources.

With the coming climate catastrophe, water will become the most precious of all “natural resources,” and it is likely that most future human conflicts will arise over water rights and dwindling water supplies. As many bio-regions become warmer and drier over time-and with much of their existing water supplies already compromised by pollutants and taxed by over-use-places like Fryeburg, ME represent crucial initial battlefields in the critical effort to protect threatened water supplies on local and regional levels. If people in places like Fryeburg decide they are able to assist less-fortunate communities elsewhere that are suffering from water shortages, then the decisions and terms should be dictated by the people of Fryeburg and nobody else. And with the uncertainties we all face regarding the future climate scenarios and subsequent human migrations, there is no guarantee that places like Maine will not also face water shortages in the future.

For audio of interviews with activists and protestors:

http://www.defendingwaterinmaine.org/PierceAtwood_14Nov08.mp3

Hey Nestle’-GO TO HELL!

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